The Record News, July 10, 2002
Call it the library’s long, lost treasure. The renovation project at the town’s historic Carnegie library has uncovered a sculpture/relief that features a pair of dragons on opposite sides of an urn with a pair of female heads atop two columns. It had been hidden, presumably for decades, behind a large piece of plywood above one of the library’s two brick fireplaces. Needless to say, the discovery has been a shocking and pleasant development for library board members.
“It was a big surprise,” board chair Chris Cummings said, during one of his regular project site inspections Friday morning, July 5. “We had no idea it was there. It’s such a unique piece. I’ve been in many historical buildings and never seen any thing like it.”
And it’s not the only ‘find’ from the project’s early stages. When Carnegie granted the town $10,000.00 to construct a new library back around 1900, the only stipulation was that a representation of the sun – to signify knowledge – be placed somewhere above the building’s front door. Cummings says he’d stared at the front of the building “a hundred million times” and was about to conclude it had been removed at some time over the years.
Then he looked up, way up. Above where the date ‘1903’ is placed, is a steel structure the purpose of which is, clearly, to fulfill Carnegie’s wish.
“It’s solid galvanized steel, so it’s going to stay,” Cummings said.
In addition, an old photo of the library signed by Carnegie himself – done during a brief visit to the structure shortly after its construction – has also been uncovered. Cummings says the benefactor made it a point not to visit any of the 2,500 community libraries his money helped build across the continent. But this was one opportunity he could not resist, and Carnegie paid tribute to the community writing, Smiths Falls had “the prettiest little library he’d ever seen,” Cummings said.